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California to expand Covid vax eligibility
Los Angeles, March 26 - California, the most populous state in the US, will expand its Covid-19 vaccine eligibility to all individuals aged 16 and older starting from April 15, Governor Gavin Newsom said.
"With vaccine supply increasing and by expanding eligibility to more Californians, the light at the end of the tunnel continues to get brighter," Xinhua news agency quoted Newsom as saying in a statement on Thursday.
"We remain focused on equity as we extend vaccine eligibility to those 50 and over starting April 1, and those 16 and older starting April 15.
"This is possible thanks to the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration and the countless public health officials across the state who have stepped up to get shots into arms," he added.
Based on the current estimates, California expects to be allocated approximately 2.5 million first and second doses per week in the first half of April, and more than 3 million doses in the second half of April, according to the statement.
California currently receives about 1.8 million doses per week.
But officials said the state, home to around 40 million residents, has the capacity to administer more than 3 million vaccines per week, and is building the capacity to administer 4 million jabs weekly by the end of April.
State authorities admitted that even with increased vaccine supply, inoculation of willing residents will take several months.
"It will take time to vaccinate all eligible Californians. During this time, we must not let our guard down," said California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly, noting that it is important to remain vigilant, continue to wear masks and follow public health guidance amid the ongoing pandemic.
As of Wednesday, more than 15.5 million vaccine doses have been administered statewide, according to the California Department of Public Health.
California, currently the worst-hit state by the pandemic, has so far registered 3,553,307 confirmed coronavirus cases and 57,091 deaths.
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